5 Major Problems with the New Testament Manuscripts

5 Major Problems with the New Testament Manuscripts

“There are more variations among the manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament”. ~Bart D. Ehrman


  1. Not a single original manuscript (autograph) of any of the gospels or of any other book from the New Testament has survived to this day.[1] You’d think God would have taken better care of the original copies of his Word, particularly if it is crucial to saving the species he created, wiped out, and then saved by killing himself in the persona of his son.


  1. We have no extant manuscripts from the first Christian century. The oldest manuscript we have dates to the second Christian century, around a century after the events it purports to relay, and it (‘Rylands Library Papyrus P52’) is just a tiny fragment approximately the size of a credit card.[2]


  1. There is not a single complete manuscript which dates earlier than the fourth century.[3]


  1. 94% of the surviving manuscripts of the New Testament date from the ninth century and later.[4]


  1. The thousands of later manuscripts we do have contain hundreds of thousands of variations and discrepancies. Some of these variations are simple spelling errors (in the perfectly meticulous Word of a perfectly meticulous God), whilst numerous other variations were intentionally produced by Christian copyists to deliberately alter earlier and rival Christian beliefs that existed in the existing manuscripts.[5]


You do not have faith in Jesus Christ – you have faith in the error-ridden and forgery-laced textual traditions of a religion that has throughout history been exposed as corrupt in every single sense of the word.


Stop squandering your precious life on this silly nonsense and have a great day!




End Notes:


  1. Barbara Aland & Klaus Wachtel, The Greek Miniscule Manuscripts of the New Testament, cited in: Michael W. Holmes (ed.), Bart D. Ehrman (ed.), The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research, Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 995, pp. 44; Jacobus H. Petzer, The Latin Version of the New Testament, cited in: Ibid, p. 124; Michael W. Holmes, Reasoned Eclecticism in New Testament Textual Criticism, cited in: Ibid, p. 347.


  1. Paul D. Wegner, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible, Downers Grove, Illinois: VarsityPress, 2006, p. 258.


  1. Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, San Francisco: Harper-San Francisco, 2005, p. 116.


  1. Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Are the Textual Traditions of Other Ancient Works Relevant?, cited at: https://ehrmanblog.org/the-text-of-the-new-testament-are-the-textual-traditions-of-other-ancient-works-relevant/?print=print, accessed on 24th Oct. 2016.


  1. Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them), New York: HarperCollins, 2009, p. 184.

2 thoughts on “5 Major Problems with the New Testament Manuscripts

  1. Speaking of Bruce Metzger, to whom Bart Ehrman dedicated “Misquoting Jesus”, he wrote the following on page 252 of that book, “Bruce Metzger is one of the great scholars of modern times, and I dedicated the book to him because he was both my inspiration for going into textual criticism and the person who trained me in the field. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. And even though we may disagree on important religious questions – he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not – we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement – maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”

    Note that last phrase, “… the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”

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